And how I spend 2 hours of my life every day
Increased reading has been one of the best things that has happened to me since I switched to Venture Capital. It helps when part of your job is to know what’s going in the various tech ecosystems around the world. Reading is an essential component of the VC job, with a lot of investors writing and reading for hours every day. Without a habitual consistency to reading, there is no way an investor can survive in today’s fast-changing world.
I started calculating this week how much time I am spending reading newsletters, blog posts, tech media, and general news. It came out to be a lot, in some cases more than 2 hours a day! Hence I decided to collate a list of all that I read regularly. Cover half of this every day and you’ll know what’s going inside and outside the tech ecosystem. I tend to focus on tech ecosystems of US, India, and SEA mostly, but do spend a bit of time on China here and there.
Daily — Newsletters
My day usually starts with coffee and browsing through all of the below daily newsletters. It continues through the every day MRT ride to the office. And then further goes on in between meetings as well as on the ride back home. I list these newsletters in order of priority for me and the reasons I like them and find them differentiated from each other.
The best way to start your morning. The mail comes in at 9 AM in the morning and is a brilliant summary of whatever happened in the Asian investment ecosystem. Better still, it doesn’t just cover VC/Tech but also includes PE/Capital markets sections. I’d highly recommend to sign up now.
- AVC by Fred Wilson
A blog by Fred Wilson, my favorite VC in the world. His blog has been educating me and thousands of others for years now, a lot that I have learned and experimented with in VC/building my company has been thanks to him. Fred writes an article every day, without fail, and it’s there in your inbox US morning time.
- Term Sheet by Erin Griffith
Used to be handled by Dan Primack before (see below). Managed by Fortune magazine, it’s the best newsletter to get an inside scoop on the US tech/VC/PE ecosystem. I like how the newsletter starts with an opinion piece on one of the major news from the day before and then goes on to list all funding rounds, acquisitions, fundraising, etc in the US.
- Axios Pro Rata by Dan Primack
Dan used to write Term Sheet and then moved to another media company Axios. He continues his legacy of daily newsletter and in fact, it has become even more expressive and detailed in research. A must read every day. There is a big overlap between this and Term Sheet above, so signing up for one should be enough.
- The Ken (paywall)
The best tech media company I have come across in Asia. The Ken was started last year by ex-Mint editors and covers the Indian ecosystem. It’s a subscription only media company which writes only 1 article every day. The articles are extremely researched and come with a lot of insider scoop on major deals happening in the region. If you have an interest in the Indian market, I‘ll highly recommend subscribing.
- CBInsights by Anand Sanwal (paywall)
There is no need to introduce CBInsights, the most data-led media company you can come across in the world. The founder, Anand, sends a daily newsletter, each line full of his trademark dark humour. It used to be free earlier but has now moved behind their paid subscription, which thankfully GREE Ventures enjoys. Love all the focus on data in this, and particularly like the fun charts (sneak peek in Instagram).
A great way to understand what’s REALLY going on inside China. It’s mostly politics news though, which works fine with me.
- Mattermark Daily by Nick Frost
Mattermark is a company similar to CBInsights and Pitchbook. The newsletter in itself is similar to Term Sheet by nature. But it also adds an amazing section of links to articles posted by KOLs mostly from US tech startups/VC funds. I find these articles gold, especially on topics such as sales, marketing, product, and growth.
Inc42 is an Indian tech media company. While YourStory (its competitor) might get more visitors, I find this newsletter the most comprehensive and succinct form of eating up the latest news from Indian tech ecosystem.
How can we miss this? Note, I am talking about their newsletter. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to go browse their app/website on most days, but I do find that their newsletter is sufficient to get yesterday’s headlines.
Meant specifically for VCs, it has some golden info hidden inside. Think LPs sharing their thoughts on fundraising, VCs talking about how they raised their first fund, Startups talking about raising their Series A round, etc. Comes with a list of deals from the ecosystem as well.
- Crunchbase News
Another one where I try to track any new deals that I might have missed in the 10 other newsletters 🙂
- Pitchbook News
Pitchbook does a good job of collating all the US funding information but has an illuminating piece added in the newsletter. Every day it picks up a micro-segment in the private fund industry and gives the median/average TVPI and IRR of the sector. Information not easily discoverable.
Also a good roundup of what’s going on in the startup ecosystem of SEA
Frankly, I don’t read half of these. But whenever I do I find something of interest in there. Product Hunt sends a curated list of great products newly launched. Amazing for some light humor and discovering that productivity tool you always wanted.
15 daily emails are enough to keep anyone busy. But a lot of good content doesn’t come at the same frequency and is published weekly or monthly. Below is that list of newsletters/podcasts I read/listen to weekly/monthly. Note that some of these tend to be a bit more thought-provoking and hence time-consuming as well.
16. ANGIN Weekly
Angin is Indonesia’s angel network. Led by David Soukhasing, the network sends a list of events and activities happening in Indonesia every week. It’s a great way to stay on top of the market when not being based their permanently
17. Tracxn Weekly
Tracxn reminds me of CBInsights a lot, albeit with less research and subjectivity, and more data churning. The analysts do some good sector-specific reports from time to time and share it weekly.
Highly recommended. Ben Evans works at a16z and has one of the most thoughtful opinions on where tech is going. His job is to look 3–10 years ahead and he does it immensely well.
19. Stackshare Digest
Similar to Product Hunt, a nice way to stay on top of new tools and products in the market, especially for developers.
20. The Conscience of a Liberal by Krugman
Paul Krugman is my favorite economist. The posts are not related to tech, but give a very good perspective on the US and European economy.
21. AsiaTechReview by Jon Russell
Jon is TechCrunch’s Asia writer and sends an email from time to time doing a summary of major news from the tech ecosystem in Asia. I especially like his focus on China, a region I don’t have much idea about.
22. DoubleDown by Soaib Grewal
Soaib is a good friend who used to be at 500 Startups India. Currently, on a hiatus from the VC world, he sends a monthly email on his personal perspectives on Indian ecosystem news. It’s a refreshing change from journalists writing the same news.
23. Feld Thoughts by Brad Feld
Again, one of my favorite VCs. Brad, a partner at Foundry Group, is one of the most famous VCs in the US. His book Venture Deals, is a sensation and a must-read. Brad and his firm have pioneered the founder friendly transparent culture that is now omnipresent in the US startup ecosystem.
24. Bothsidesofthetable by Mark Suster
Daily writing by Mark Suster, serial entrepreneur and partner at Upfront Ventures. One of the most informative writing for founders, Mark covers any topic from how to allocate ESOPs all the way to US politics. He has also been my inspiration towards the latest spate of anti-Convertible notes you might have seen on this blog.
25. SaaStr by Jason Lemkin
Managed by Jason Lemkin, founder of EchoSign and now a partner at Storm Ventures. This blog is one of the best resources for SaaS companies with a lot of informative articles by Jason on how to scale a SaaS business using his own experience.
26. Tom Tunguz
If there is any SaaS writing better than Jason’s, it’s probably by Tomasz Tunguz, a partner at Redpoint Ventures. An ex-Product Manager at Google, Tom covers SaaS and Data Science in his brilliant blog.
27. a16z blog/podcast
It’s one of the only ways to listen to Marc Andreessen, Steven Sinofsky, and the heavyweights of tech. I’d recommend their podcast instead of the blog, much more personal.
28. The Growth Show
A podcast run by Hubspot, the best marketing tech company globally, it features a new VP/Head of Marketing from a leading tech company in the US every week. I have learned a few marketing tricks of my own from these shows, I am sure you will also.
29. YCombinator Blog
Presents an enlightening set of articles and resources, from YC alums to leading VCs to YC partners. Nice way to understand what’s coming next in tech.
Justin from Golden Gate Ventures rounds up my list. I like Justin’s fluid and open writing style. I wish he would write more often though.
If you have made it this far, congrats. If you are wondering how I find time to go through all this material, I have given a snapshot of my usual day before. It’s busy, but you can always find time for interesting stuff. It also helps that I don’t use social media often and also don’t have a Netflix account. I hope you subscribe and become a regular reader of at least a few of these.
Contributed by Nikhil Kapur
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About Nikhil Kapur
Working together with some of the best minds in the tech sector of emerging markets. Love investing in products bringing customer delight. Leading Southeast Asia and India investments for GREE Ventures. Truly believe in the old-school hands-on approach to VC.
Built a profitable tech company in India. Loves dogs and travel. Enjoys the mix of light and dark side in the Startup world.
I write weekly about the Asian startup ecosystem at grayscale.vc.
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